Learning Through Play: Sand Drawing

The Boy is becoming more and more curious about letters. He's desperate to know what they are called, he's practising the names and sounds that he's familiar with all the time, he's trying to form the shape of them in the air and finding letters he knows in books. I'm going to start focusing on the key letters and playing bingo games involving them because he just wants to learn!

One of the best ways to learn numbers and letters is through play. And one of the best ways to practise the formation of them is through play as well. The key point to note is that if littlies can't do it on a large scale, they can't do it on a small scale. So if they can't form the shape of letters in the air or a variety of other ways, then they won't be able to do it with a crayon on paper.

So we've been practising our pre-writing skills in a tray of coloured sand, to which I added glitter to make it more sparkly and attractive.


We explored the texture of the sand, making hand and foot prints.

We've been practising our shapes, squares are easy but triangles are tricky!


We drew faces and numbers.

learning through play

Before we moved onto drawing letters. Initially, I drew the letters in the sand while he watched me. Then he held my hand while I drew them so he could feel the flow of the shape, then I drew them and he drew over the top of my letter. next he progressed onto drawing them himself. The hardest part in all of this was that, because The Boy is left-handed, I had to reverse it and draw it with my left hand myself!

Forming letters in sand in a big tray is one of the activities that is frequently used in my school in both nursery and reception. As I've said before, until they can do it on a large scale, the smaller and more accurate writing doesn't happen. And we should be encouraging them to draw zigzag, wavy, curved and straight lines, as these are the shapes of our alphabet.

Other good materials to do this with are wood shavings or sawdust, shaving foam and that weirdy bath jelly gloop stuff. Anything that holds the shape once a finger has been drawn through it.

I bought my coloured sand from e-Bay.


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  1. says

    What a great idea and love the idea of adding the glitter, fun and beautiful. When he becomes more confident with his letters try a game we used to play. use your finger to draw the letter on each others back or palm and guess the letter. We had lots of fun with this and now sometimes do it with words.

  2. says

    as you know the right time is when they want to learn, and for all children that is different. He should come on fantastic over the summer when you have lots of time for learning play

  3. says

    We still use this a lot with a variety of different textures to help Little man, flour, cornflour, salt and sand, its a great way of teaching and also helps the fine motor skills xxx

  4. Natasha Dennis says

    Little Man is just getting into letters. I just read this after I just wrote a blog post about making some alphabet dot to dot cards whilst he was down with chickenpox this week. http://www.littlecreativedays.co.uk/blog/read_57911/alphabet-dot-to-dot-cards-letters-a-to-h.html
    Also I gave you a mention in my craft diary blog this week. We made a rainbow butterfly but your safe yours look loads better than our attempt.

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